Blond fireflies amid the summer hedges,
how splendid your sunray
darting through the darkness! You’ve reminded me
of something that has never vanished
from my childhood: infinite
hope through the fields. I see myself
as a child again, feel the unknown 
rhythm of times past: 
I a dream I am lying on a girl
stuck in my heart:
a musical bas-relief
for vast infinity: I compare her
to the moon, to the stars,
to the splendorous night
and everything attaches me to that love
I lose myself in:
of this I actually know nothing
except a confusing clamor.


Un amore

Lucciole bionde per le siepi d’estate,
com’è splendido il vostro raggio
che per le tenebra appare! Voi mi ricordate
qualcosa che non si annulla
della mia fanciullezza: infinita
speranza pei prati. Mi rivedo
fanciullo, sento l’ignota
cadenza di tempi andati:
sono in sogno sopra una fanciulla
che mi s’è fitta in cuore:
un bassorilievo musicale
per estese infinità: la paragono
alla luna, alle stelle,
allo splendore della notte
e tutto mi affiso in quell’amore
e mi vi disperdo:
di qui non so nulla

Copyright © 2013 by John Taylor. Used by permission of the translator. All rights reserved.

A hint of gold where the moon will be; 
Through the flocking clouds just a star or two; 
Leaf sounds, soft and wet and hushed, 
And oh! the crying want of you. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 23, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

In some other life, I can hear you
breathing: a pale sound like running
fingers through tangled hair. I dreamt
again of swimming in the quarry
& surfaced here when you called for me
in a voice only my sleeping self could
know. Now the dapple of the aspen
respires on the wall & the shades cut
its song a staff of light. Leave me—
that me—in bed with the woman
who said all the sounds for pleasure
were made with vowels I couldn’t
hear. Keep me instead with this small sun
that sips at the sky blue hem of our sheets
then dips & reappears: a drowsy penny
in the belt of Venus, your aureole nodding
slow & copper as it bobs against cotton
in cornflower or clay. What a waste
the groan of the mattress must be
when you backstroke into me & pull
the night up over our heads. Your eyes
are two moons I float beneath & my lungs
fill with a wet hum your hips return.
It’s Sunday—or so you say with both hands
on my chest—& hot breath is the only hymn
whose refrain we can recall. And then you
reach for me like I could’ve been another
man. You make me sing without a sound.

Copyright © 2019 by Meg Day. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

I will think of water-lilies
Growing in a darkened pool,
And my breath shall move like water,
And my hands be limp and cool.

It shall be as though I waited
In a wooden place alone;
I will learn the peace of lilies
And will take it for my own.

If a twinge of thought, if yearning
Come like wind into this place,
I will bear it like the shadow
Of a leaf across my face.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 25, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

To Tommaso De’ Cavalieri

Veggio co’ bei vostri occhi.

With your fair eyes a charming light I see,
    For which my own blind eyes would peer in vain;
    Stayed by your feet, the burden I sustain
    Which my lame feet find all too strong for me;
Wingless upon your pinions forth I fly;
    Heavenward your spirit stirreth me to strain;
    E'en as you will, I blush and blanch again,
    Freeze in the sun, burn ’neath a frosty sky.
Your will includes and is the lord of mine;
    Life to my thoughts within your heart is given;
    My words begin to breathe upon your breath:
Like to the moon am I, that cannot shine
    Alone; for lo! our eyes see nought in heaven
    Save what the living sun illumineth.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 24, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

in the rain-
darkness,        the sunset
being sheathed i sit and
think of you

the holy
city which is your face
your little cheeks the streets
of smiles

your eyes half-
thrush
half-angel and your drowsy
lips where float flowers of kiss

and
there is the sweet shy pirouette
your hair
and then

your dancesong
soul.      rarely-beloved
a single star is
uttered,and i

think
           of you

This poem is in the public domain.

Never, never may the fruit be plucked from the bough
And gathered into barrels.
He that would eat of love must eat it where it hangs.
Though the branches bend like reeds,
Though the ripe fruit splash in the grass or wrinkle on the tree,
He that would eat of love may bear away with him
Only what his belly can hold,
Nothing in the apron,
Nothing in the pockets.
Never, never may the fruit be gathered from the bough
And harvested in barrels.
The winter of love is a cellar of empty bins,
In an orchard soft with rot.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 23, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

love between us is
speech and breath. loving you is
a long river running.

From Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums. Copyright © 1998 by Sonia Sanchez. Used with the permission of Beacon Press. 

I loved you before I was born.
It doesn't make sense, I know.

I saw your eyes before I had eyes to see.
And I've lived longing 
for your ever look ever since.
That longing entered time as this body. 
And the longing grew as this body waxed.
And the longing grows as the body wanes.
The longing will outlive this body.

I loved you before I was born.
It doesn't make sense, I know.

Long before eternity, I caught a glimpse
of your neck and shoulders, your ankles and toes.
And I've been lonely for you from that instant.
That loneliness appeared on earth as this body. 
And my share of time has been nothing 
but your name outrunning my ever saying it clearly. 
Your face fleeing my ever
kissing it firmly once on the mouth.

In longing, I am most myself, rapt,
my lamp mortal, my light 
hidden and singing. 

I give you my blank heart.
Please write on it
what you wish. 

From The Undressing: Poems by Li-Young Lee. Copyright © 2018 by Li-Young Lee. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

How to love like water loves
when it’s impossible to even taste
all the ghostly sediments
each time you take a sip

Impossible to savor
the salt in your blood
the light and island shorelines
in each living cell

When even the plainest mouthful
tastes more of you than you of it

 

 

Sweetest of absences
that frees in wave after wave
debris of thought like the dead,
the drowned, the vanished, and yet
sails your lips
on a voyage toward another’s, plying
all luck and regret

Worship, splash, guzzle, or forget
It clears any difference
Stone washer and mountain dissolver
that will
outlive us, even the memory of
all any eyes touched

Wasp and cactus in a desert
Comet through outer space
Sleep among all the cloud-shepherds’ children

A love so perpetually current
it doesn’t care that you love
without even knowing you love
what you couldn’t survive
three days without

How to love like that: wild
dream-sparkler and meticulous architect
of every snowflake
Wise, ebullient, and generous
as the rain

Deepest of miracles
for a time
borrowing and replenishing
a self
overflowing with fate

From Mitochondrial Night (Coffee House Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 Ed Bok Lee. Used with permission of the author and Coffee House Press. This poem originally appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, Fall-Winter 2017.

We will count on these walls
             to whisper
                           our resumes 
to the strangers who take up
             the work of these rooms,
forwarding them
             past dust.

Our purpose shared,
             suspended in trust
                           to a poem
      that told us a long love
                                          is willed.

Believing such
             we are bound to exit
             flattered
                            by our design,
unmindful that this thing
                            has also always
             been lying
                            in wait,
                 a thing
                            in itself, bossy and brutish
that has thrived in spite of
              sabotage chapters
                                           occasional giddy
                           neglect.

 

              A volition
                                           apart
        that exceeds
                            dull need
a self-interweaving
               imperative be mine
                             that will whisper
               our love
                             past dust.

Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Moxley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.